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Three researchers who recently received their PhD at the University of Amsterdam have been awarded a Rubicon grant from the Dutch Research Council (NWO) to conduct research abroad. Marie Deserno, Sylvie Lesuis and Alba Torrents de la Peña will continue their research at foreign research institutions. The Rubicon programme is intended to give young, highly promising researchers the opportunity to gain international research experience.

In total, 61 researchers applied for Rubicon funding. Of these, 16 received a grant. The grants are for the first financing round of 2019.

About the research

Dr. Marie Deserno (Neuropsychology): Self-strengthening effects in the development of autism
Clinicians often see autism as a multi-causal phenomenon instead of a single underlying abnormality. Marie Deserno will translate this way of thinking into formal models to throw new light on when somebody will have the most benefit from an intervention. Deserno will conduct research for a period of 22 months at the Max Planck Institute of Human Development in Germany.

Dr. Sylvie Lesuis (Neuroscience): Memory of the stressed brain 
Anxiety disorders can arise due to memory generalisation in which too many environmental signals are experienced as threatening. Exposure to stress strengthens such generalisation and can therefore contribute to these disorders. In this research, the mechanism underlying that will be investigated. Lesuis will conduct research for a period of 24 months at the Hospital for Sick Children, Josselyn Lab, in Canada.

Dr. Alba Torrents de la Peña (Medical Microbiology): Flu virus a difficult vaccine target
Vaccines can provide lifelong protection if vaccination occurs in the early phases of life. What makes the flu virus so special? The researcher will use powerful microscopes to study the evolution of the virus and the immune system of patients before and after vaccination. Alba Torrents will use powerful microscopes to study the evolution of the virus in the immune system of patients before and after a vaccination.
Torrents de la Peña will spend 24 months at Scripps Research, Department of Integrative Structural and Computational Biology, in the United States.

About the Rubicon

With a Rubicon grant researchers can spend up to 24 months doing research at a foreign institution. The size of the grant is dependent on the destination chosen and the duration of the stay. Each year, NWO can fund about 60 young researchers within Rubicon (for a total amount of 7 million euros allocated over three rounds).